The Collective Face Theatre Ensemble intends to close out its 2012-13 season in style by staging its most ambitious production to date - a full stage production of "Pride and Prejudice."
Based on the beloved 1813 novel by Jane Austen, it is the story of Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five sisters, whose mother is trying to marry them all off. With the arrival of the handsome but enigmatic Darcy, complications ensue.
The play opens May 10 at the Muse Arts Warehouse.
"It's everyone's favorite Jane Austen classic because the circumstance hasn't changed," says Alexis Mundy, who portrays Elizabeth Bennet.
"Everyone has crazy family dynamics," she says. "Everyone has fallen in love and played that cat-and-mouse game with a lover or companion. They've even done 'Pride and Prejudice' with zombies because the story is timeless and everyone can relate to it."
The production is taken from an adaptation by Jon Jory, the former producing director at Actors Theatre of Louisville. With 19 in the cast, the play is the largest project undertaken by the Collective Face so far.
"Usually, our casts are smaller and more intimate," Mundy says. "Our rehearsals are fun and rowdy and crazy."
Mundy identifies with her character.
"I am very much like Elizabeth," she says. "She takes no crap, she's funny, she's very strong and independent.
"She's fun, witty, kind and cares about her sisters," Mundy says. "I have a big family. I'm one of five."
That's one of the reasons Mundy became involved with theater. "When I was 8, we were close to another family," she says.
"One of their daughters wanted to audition, so my mom said she would take her to try out. I went along and said, 'I want to do this, too.'
"I ended up getting in the play and the neighbor didn't," Mundy says. "That started it. It's something my mom always encouraged. Of course, with five kids, she tried to keep us busy."
The play is suitable for all audiences, Mundy says. "There's something in it everyone can relate to," she says.
Patrons who attend on opening night are eligible for an added bonus.
"17hundred90 has been very gracious to us and agreed to do a special on lunch or dinner - buy one entree and get a second of equal or lesser value free," says Dandy Barrett, managing director of Collective Face.
"That will be good through the month of May, but only those people who purchase tickets will receive the coupon, which we'll give out at the box office on opening night."
The aim is to get word out about the play.
"What we're trying to do is to attract people on opening night so that we can get good word of mouth going on the play very early," Barrett says.
"Word of mouth is the best advertisement you can have," she says. "We try to match our promo with the genre of the play. 'Pride and Prejudice' is set in the same era when the 17hundred90 restaurant was built."
The dates of the staging of the play also are important, Barrett says. "The timing is over Mother's Day," she says. "We thought we wanted to do something moms would get a kick out of.
"This is a play about five daughters, all of whom the mother wants to marry off because that's what mothers are supposed to do," she says. "This particular adaptation is witty and has a lot of fun in it."
But that doesn't mean it's been easy to put on. "It has been a big, daunting show," says Collective Face artistic director David I.L. Poole, who is directing the production. "It travels a lot of places within the play itself.
"But because of the adaptation of it, Jon Jory has made it very streamlined," Poole says. "The BBC version of it is about 6 hours long, but our version is about 2 hours and 15 minutes."
Barrett praises costume designer Chann Givens. "She has been just a trouper," Barrett says. "She's worked on every production we've done, but this one has particularly taxed her because of the number of people and intricacy of the costuming."
"The costumes are so lavish," Poole says. "The five Bennet sisters all have two costumes and Darcy has his own elaborate costumes.
"It's interesting to see the cast move in them. It completely makes them who they are in the play."
While the costumes are lavish, the set is simplified. "It's a standard location with chairs to signify locales," Poole says.
"One of the things said about this adaptation is that you can actually feel the flow of it. We were put in contact with the author, and we have a scene in our production that isn't in any other production of 'Pride and Prejudice.' I got to dabble a little in writing."
There are lots of reasons to see this production. "It's got beautiful classical music and Jon Jory's words," Poole says.
"The length and speed of it is fast, so people don't get bored. It's a perfect Mother's Day present tied up in a bow.
"Most people don't realize 'Pride and Prejudice' is a romantic comedy and is quite funny," he says. "It's romantic, but it's got stuff for the guys as well."
IF YOU GO
What: The Collective Face Theatre Ensemble presents "Pride and Prejudice"
When: 8 p.m. May 10, 11, 17, 18, 24 and 25; 3 p.m. May 12, 19 and 26
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703 Louisville Road
Cost: $15 general admission, $12 seniors and students